‘20 Years of Independence’

‘20 Years of Independence’

IDDT formed in 1994 and published its first Newsletter in April of that year, so this year we celebrate our achievements over the last 20 years with the theme of ‘20 Years of Independence’. This is an achievement in itself. It is 20 years without accepting pharmaceutical industry or other funding which could be seen as biasing our position and the information we provide. There are times when this has been, and still is, a real financial struggle, but our reputation and reliability rests on our independence.

In 1994 we had just a handful of members but at the beginning of 2014, we have over 30,000 members, not something we expected. Our membership consists of people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and their families, parents of children with diabetes and healthcare professionals who are so important to the health and wellbeing of us all.

The reason IDDT formed was to maintain supplies of natural animal insulins for people who have adverse effects when using synthetic GM, so-called ‘human’ insulin. Our first big break came in the Autumn of 1994 when Newsnight on BBC2 broadcast the reasons for the formation of IDDT and the problems some people experienced when using synthetic ‘human’ insulin. Newsnight also made public the adverse reaction reports from the then Committee on the Safety of Medicines – the Yellow Card Scheme which still operates today.

  • Human insulin reports from 1982 to 1994 showed 13 deaths that could be linked to human insulin were reported and 385 reported adverse reactions.
  • Animal insulin reports 1963 to1994, a much longer period, which showed 2 deaths that could be linked to animal insulin and only 38 reported adverse reactions

Despite the late hour of the programme, IDDT’s phone started ringing immediately after, so we knew that our cause was justified.

Our members lobbied and wrote hundreds of letters over the years in their determination and desperation to maintain the animal insulin they needed and 20 years later, animal insulins are still available. However, we must also recognise the doctors who courageously spoke out and put their reputations on the line to ensure that animal insulin remained available. So a huge thank you goes to the late Professor Arthur Teuscher, Dr Matthew Kiln and Dr Laurence Gerlis without whom animal insulins would have disappeared many years ago.

IDDT’s growth and success are thanks to the ongoing support of our members. Together our achievements over the last 20 years demonstrate that determination, accurate facts and empowerment of people with diabetes can be successful. These are lessons worth remembering in these changing times for health care and the ‘new’ NHS.